Ikea have announced some details planned for their Greenwich branch which replaces the ‘eco’ Sainsburys built around the Millenium. A planning application is expected next month.
The fact it’s located in a heavily polluted and congested location as well as the environmentally pioneering building it replaced means Ikea are going big on its green credentials. They talk of a “bio-diverse” roof and collecting rainwater as well as solar panels. Most of which the old building did, which was quite groundbreaking for its time. A lot of this sounds standard stuff these days. So will it be enough?
Traffic and congestion
It’s pretty evident that the Blackwall Tunnel is beyond capacity. This will only add to it. An enquiry is going on at the moment about a new Silvertown Tunnel. 853 blog has a great write up here. If approved that will funnel more traffic towards the same approach roads as already exist, and issues of more traffic coming south from Bexley, Kent and Bromley to visit Ikea will increase traffic.
Ikea talk about the number of bus routes but lets not kid ourselves – how many will take flat pack furniture home by buses (and those the Peninsula are already busy before 20,000 additional homes are built, as seen here, as part of developer Knight Dragon’s masterplan alongside other developments)?
TfL have seen £1 billion cut from their budget by the Department for Transport until 2020 so many additional buses isn’t too likely. This despite an expected 500,000 more people living in London from 2015 to 2020. Current growth looked like this:
But back to this store, and I don’t want to appear anti-Ikea. I’ve used them a lot over the years. I think I bought my first ever Kopperberg in there way back before it took off. I like their stores and their products. I just don’t see this format in this location being ideal, and not with the mitigation measures announced so far.
Measures to allow people to order in store and then Ikea delivering from warehouses elsewhere at a lower cost than the current very expensive online delivery costs would help. That way people could arrive by public transport, browse and order, and then it be delivered at a lower cost than online which could help dissuade arrival by car or van to take the products home.
Another issue which I often raise, particularly in this area, is that the big-box retail shed format is completely inappropriate for inner London. The table above shows the population in London rose by 532k in five years. Housing is of course in very short supply. To use inner-city brownfield land solely for a big box without any residential component in 2016 is madness.
And then there’s other local plans which’ll increase congestion. The Cruise Terminal plan will see thousands disembark ships at certain times, with long queues of coaches planned to then take tourists to central London. That’s a lot of coaches waiting and moving through from the Peninsula to the town centre.
And then piecemeal expansion of other retail sites in Greenwich and Charlton such as Brocklebank Retail park opening within months including Aldi, Primark, Mothercare and Next, and hundreds of car parking spaces. Big box retail with no residential element whatsoever.
Oh yeah, and I almost forgot about the huge school now under construction on Greenwich Peninsula. St Mary Magdalene will have 1646 pupils and 200 staff. It’s a nursery, primary, secondary and sixth form establishment. Like it or not, many parents will drive and drop their children off exacerbating traffic pressure. Those that don’t will take the bus – that Ikea customers are going to use?
We’ll have to wait and see exactly what next month’s Ikea application includes. They have trialled different store formats in other places – Hamburg in Germany and Birmingham in the UK, so have been open to tweak formats to suit locations.
Most people will be looking forward to their very cheap breakfasts and food they provide; the meatballs in the cafe and ridiculously cheap hot dogs by the check-outs alongside picking up furniture which looks good and doesn’t cost the earth. Me too, to be honest. But there has to be a comprehensive plan in Greenwich for how to mitigate traffic and cope with the increase in population. There doesn’t seem to be anything adequate so far.